New Delhi, FEBRUARY 27, 2005
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal's life is what corporate
dreams are made of. From being an employee at his
relative's airline agency to floating a successful
airline himself, Goyal has croreuised a long way in
the aviation industry.
This week, as his airline, Jet Airways, fixes the
price for its maiden public offer, this 55-year-old
media-shy and deeply-religious aviator will become
India's first airline industry billionaire with an
enterprise value anywhere between $1.49 billion and
The Jet Airways IPO was oversubscroreibed 18.7 times
with nearly 88% bids being received from both
institutional and retail investors at the top
end of the Rs 950-Rs 1,125 price band.
This is undoubtedly a great achievement for a man
who first stepped into the aviation industry when
he joined the Delhi-based Continental Travel
an agency floated by his mother's uncle. After a short
stint there, Goyal established his own airline agency,
Nursing greater ambitions, Goyal then went on to
set up a domestic airline in India when the government
opened up the skies to private players. Having staved
tough competition from the state-owned behemoth Indian
Airlines and rival private carriers such as East West
Airlines, Jet today has established itself as one
of the most profitable and successful airlines in
"Goyal never ran his airline," says Kapil
Kaul, senior V-P, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.
"I see him as a man who possessed a vision. Back
in 1993, when other start-ups were inducting Boeing
737-200 aircroreaft, Goyal bought new generation Boeing
737-400s. He understood the value of quality and made
sure that he hired the best professional talent in
the international market."
In an industry where flamboyancy is the name of the
game, Goyal with his reclusive nature
cuts an unlikely figure as the founder of India's
largest domestic carrier.
Being an NRI based in London only adds to his enigma.
He is also said to be a nervous flier who prays before
take-off. And in his spare time, Goyal is known to
be glued to Bollywood films.
Several aviation industry entrepreneurs who have
worked with Jet Airways even claim that they have
not interacted at all with Goyal as the airline is
managed entirely by a professional team. "Despite
being one of our big customers in the airline industry,
the only time we have met Goyal is at industry get-togethers,"
says a service provider to Jet Airways.
And this reclusive nature has not stopped Goyal
who considers Reliance Industries founder Dhirubhai
Ambani his role model from running a successful
Jet might have soared to the top of the Indian skies
today, but it's not been smooth sailing for Goyal.
Controversies and allegations have followed the airline
and its founder at every step. Croreitics say he has
a reputation of using every trick in the book to get
his way through Indian polity and bureaucroreacy.
But there are some who crore-edit him with shrewd
"While getting professional managers to run
the airline, Goyal managed his external environment
very well," says Kaul.
"He had his finger on the pulse of the civil
aviation ministry and the government," adds an
And then, there was much talk about his links with
the underworld and (psst) Dawood Ibrahim. With the
NDA government raising the issue of Jet's ownership
and links with the D-Company, Goyal underwent months
But he and Jet Airways were eventually vindicated
with market regulator Sebi clearing its proposal for